With much to celebrate—the holiday season, the successful end of the first week of a new job, the fact that we live in Georgia and don't have to shovel snow and thus remain the envy of our former cohorts in Minnesota—we headed to the swanky Whiskey Blue in the W Atlanta Buckhead to test out some selections from the new holiday and winter cocktail menu. (The same drinks are also available at Whiskey Park and Living Room, both at the W Atlanta Midtown). I've been to Whiskey Blue multiple times and can't get over the seven-foot-long white couch in the elevator; it's impossible not to feel chic and well-connected during the ride up and down. The feeling continues inside the bar, where the vibe is hip-yet-relaxed and the service excellent.
We started with the holiday cocktails:
Bubbling Rubies ($14) floats fresh raspberries in a concoction comprised of Belvedere vodka, crème de cassis, champagne, white cranberry juice and fresh lime juice. Before, during or after dinner, this cocktail is a surefire bet: Candy Cane ($13) has fun red and white layers and comes garnished with a mini candy cane. It features Stolichnaya Vodka, Rumple Minze Peppermint Schnapps, Cream and Grenadine. The intense minty flavor invites a pucker. To my palate, it would be difficult to consume a whole one of these drinks alone; it's the sort of cocktail best enjoyed after a meal and passed among friends.
Bon Bon ($13) is a yummy, decadent blend of Chambord, amaretto, Frangelico, chocolate syrup, cream and fresh raspberries. If the chocolate/raspberry combo rocks your world—do you poke your way through a box of mixed chocolate truffles most hoping to find one that's filled with raspberry cream?—then you won't want to miss this cocktail. This cocktail, too, seems best suited as an after-dinner indulgence.
The Elf Mint-ini ($13) is a pleasing chocolate/mint blend of Stolichnaya Vanil vodka, dark crème de cacao, white crème de menthe and cream. It seems best suited for after-dinner enjoyment...but then I've also heard that cookies make a great dessert yet I love them for breakfast...!
Beyond the holiday treats, the winter cocktail menu features some new additions. Among them:
Suspicious Minds ($13) combines Right Gin, ginger liqueur and white cranberry juice. The strawberry garnish felt very out-of-season; red cranberries would be better suited to the drink in this weather. But that's a minor quibble. This is a truly fabulous cocktail. What's more, it served as my introduction to Right Gin (I later tasted a splash on its own; Right Gin boasts a clean mouthfeel, crisp flavors and long spicy finish. It's fantastic. My gin collection is crowded but I'm going to make room for this addition.) Simply, yum:Rose Angel ($13) combines hibiscus-infused Roseangel Gran Centenario Reposado Tequila with elderflower syrup and is finished with a splash of Sprite. Because cocktails at Gerber Bars are free-poured rather than measured, there will be slight variations from one cocktail to another. The drink I sipped had a heavy amount of elderflower syrup, which is tasty but in this case overpowered the delicate hibiscus flavors infused into the pink-hued tequila. A splash more of the tequila helped balance the flavors. Hibiscus flavor is more earthy than flowery, a pleasant contrast to the sweeter taste of elderflowers. I only wish they'd use a hibiscus flower as a garnish instead of the lemon curl: Bottom line: I most heartily recommend Bubbling Rubies and Suspicious Minds.
Here's some holiday spirit you can share with guests:
1 cup Maker's Mark bourbon
4 cups apple cider
1 sliced lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
Combine Maker's Mark and cider. Add the sliced lemon with rind, cloves, allspice and sticks of cinnamon. Heat to boiling and serve.
—Recipe Courtesy of Gerber Group